First off - Big shout outs to BATCADDY's community members Guy, Cecelia, and Jeff for sharing their stories of inspiration, passion, and love of the game. Thank you!
Today we feel it's time to share ours. In this 3 part series we interview BATCADDY founder and CEO, Peter Hanneforth, and the journey he's experienced in pursuing a life long dream. Committed to the mantra, "The greatest risk in life is not taking one", Peter shares his story from how it all began, including the origins of the name "BATCADDY" to the turning point which validated his leap of faith.
An avid golfer with an entrepreneurial spirit, Peter describes the inception of BATCADDY as the "Perfect Storm". With that in mind, let's get to it!
BATCADDY Community, here's our story.
Part 1: Pursuing A Dream
What inspired the creation of BATCADDY?
It was kind of a "perfect storm"! As an avid golfer, I always preferred walking over riding, especially as a Club member in an Upstate NY CC where most members were traditional walkers and supported by the local Pro. In 2003, I was intrigued with an article in the New York Times about electric golf caddies in Europe, and the sizable market for such trolleys, especially in the UK. I had just left Corporate life in order to realize my life long dream to start my own company. A few weeks later during one of my trips to China I came upon a factory that specialized in electric golf caddies for the European market. So, here was the business idea I had waited for: Introduce affordable electric golf caddies in the US market, which with the pure number of golfers, many of them Baby Boomers, seemed to be a highly attractive launch pad! The easy part was the brand name that needed to symbolize the product while being catchy, so "Battery Caddy" or in short "Bat-Caddy" it was.
How did it move from concept to launching the brand?
After negotiations with the supplier, establishing the legal, administrative and financial part of the company, it all started in my garage in Long Island in 2004. In December of that year I received the first container of caddies which I stacked to the roof, ready to be picked up by Fedex. The "one man" company started shipping in Jan 2005, shipping the same number of caddies in one year as we often do in one day today!
What were the early years of BATCADDY like?
The early years were tough! Neither the company, nor the product, had any credibility. Very few people understood the concept or the benefits. It was a one man company, so I did everything from procurement, administration, Marketing, logistics and selling. During the week I managed the day-to-day company affairs, and on the weekends I packed up my aging Jeep and traveled to every Consumer Golf Show in the Northeast I could find, from Washington to Boston and New Jersey to Cincinnati. I was literally laughed at by people who thought this cart was for "lazy people" while they would ride in a golf cart, or some kind of gimmick, a la CaddyShack. Eventually, I found some online dealers who were interested in the product, and some of the current leading dealers even started their businesses with the Bat-Caddy brand.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
As previously mentioned, I would say lack of product awareness, credibility, access to distribution, and of course access to capital, both financial and human. I had enough energy to work 12 hours, 7 days a week, and as a matter of fact I really enjoyed the hands-on approach, as opposed to the lavish, glass tower, corner office I had left behind. Too much bureaucracy and risk aversion. Partly for that reason I never wanted to have investors, so I financed the entire business with my own funds, slowly but steadily, and mostly under the radar of potential competitors.
Was there a moment that validated your decision to take this leap of faith?
Growth was double digit the first few years, so I knew that eventually the product could gain some traction. Finally in 2010 the market seemed to explode and we had triple digit growth. I was super excited thinking the tipping point had finally come. However, competition increased, and while more companies shared the increasing market, growth rates moved back to more normal levels, which was still great when you recall the shrinking of the golf industry after 2010. Ten years later another" explosion" took place during the COVID pandemic, when golf was one of the few games in town, and walking the course was mandatory in many places. While things have normalized again since then, the market is at a much higher level than pre-pandemic. It's clear that the industry is here to stay, and it still has enormous potential given the huge market here in the US. So we are doing our best to stay on top and meet the upcoming challenges. As an entrepreneur you never know what comes around the corner, but I always stayed committed to my mantra: "The greatest risk in life is not taking one."
Stay tuned next week for Part 2: The Foundation of BATCADDY.